February 16, 2012
NC STATE BASKETBALL
Brett Friedlander (accinsider.com)
Difficult stretch gives Wolfpack a chance to State its case
The fact that Gottfried still has State in the conversation this late in the season is an accomplishment in itself.
You have to go all the way back to 2005-06 – Herb Sendek’s final season – to find the last time the Wolfpack had 18 wins overall and was 7-3 in the ACC after 10 conference games.
And yet despite those glowing records and the fact that State has improved dramatically since the start of the season under Gottfried, something it rarely did in five previous years with his predecessor Sidney Lowe, we still don’t have an accurate indication of just how good this team really is.
Of its seven league wins, five have come against the unholy trinity of Wake Forest, Boston College and Georgia Tech – which between them have a combined 7-25 league record and an average RPI of 171.
Let’s face it, all the Wolfpack has really done to this point is put itself in position to do something special by fattening up on what might just be the worst three bottom feeders in ACC history. Now, the time has come for it to go out and do something special.
“It’s a big week for us,” Gottfried said Monday on the ACC’s weekly conference call. “Our players are excited about the opportunity that’s ahead of us and I’m sure they’re anxious to play this week.”
Scott Fowler (N&O)
Gottfried to be judged by UNC, Duke games
Wolfpack Insider: Gottfried Making Solid Mark
In his first year running N.C. State’s program, Gottfried is trying to strike a delicate balance. He is aware of the school’s proud basketball history and willing to embrace it, as evidenced by the large, colorful banners honoring the 1974 and 1983 national championship teams that hang from a baseline wall in the team’s practice gym.
By the same token, Gottfried distances himself from the previous regime, which was in place for five mediocre seasons. With Sidney Lowe as its head coach, N.C. State never reached the NCAA Tournament or finished better than ninth in the ACC.
Whether it’s out of respect for Lowe or simply the easiest way to develop unbiased opinions about things such as personnel and structure, you almost expect Gottfried to go the route of former baseball star Mark McGwire and declare, “I’m not here to talk about the past.”
For Gottfried, it’s all about now and how the present can shape the future.
That calls for changing a culture of losing and re-working schedules to play tougher competition. It means getting the most from the talent at his disposal and attracting reinforcements so that State can challenge North Carolina and Duke with regularity, which hasn’t happened for more than two decades.
“As I watch and evaluate players, I know who I want, and I want to try to get them,” Gottfried said. “I don’t care who’s recruiting them, that’s who I’m picking. The fun part about recruiting is it’s competitive. It’s hard. We’ve all through the years found that diamond in the rough nobody recruited, all had one or two of those that have become great players, but day-in and day-out, you want to sign a good player, you better tighten your shoes real tight and go work.”
The confidence to not only stand toe-to-toe with Carolina and Duke on the recruiting trail but also possess a real belief that N.C. State can win enough of those battles separates Gottfried a bit from his predecessors. It’s part of a blunt and occasionally brash personality that makes him an interesting foil to Mike Krzyzewski and Roy Williams.
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
N.C. State’s begins tough road against ACC’s top three teams tonight at Duke
As first-year coach Mark Gottfried tackles a rebuilding project at N.C. State, he can appreciate what Mike Krzyzewski has accomplished in 32 seasons with Duke.
Gottfried saw where the Blue Devils started.
As a high school senior, he and David Henderson took official recruiting visits to Durham on the same weekend early in the 1981-82 season, Krzyzewski’s second in charge. That Vince Taylor-led group finished 10-17, and the Duke of today might not exist were it not for the arrival of a loaded freshman class.
Henderson was part of it. So were Mark Alarie and Jay Bilas.
As for Gottfried? He picked Oral Roberts after the Blue Devils went in a different direction.
“They chose to go on another guard with the name Johnny Dawkins; I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him,” Gottfried said, tongue planted firmly in cheek.
Tonight, more than three decades after eating a Sunday breakfast with Krzyzewski and his wife, Mickie, in their Durham home, Gottfried will roam the sideline as a head coach in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke (21-4, 8-2 ACC) is a national power, ranked fourth in the country and considered a contender to win a fifth NCAA title.
N.C. State, meanwhile, is striving to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006. The Wolfpack (18-7, 7-3) is currently listed as one of ESPN “Bracketology” expert Joe Lunardi’s last four teams in the field of 68, a status corresponding with an opening-round game in Dayton, Ohio.
The Pack Travels To No. 4 Duke
NC State makes the trip down I-40 to Durham to face fourth-ranked Duke on Thursday at 9 p.m. Thursday’s game begins a stretch of six days in which the Wolfpack will face the ACC’s top three teams. The contest can be heard on the NC State Radio Network with Gary Hahn and Tony Haynes on the call. The game can also be seen on The ACC Network wth Tim Brando and Mike Gminski.
The game will feature the ACC’s top two three-point shooting teams with the Pack connecting on a .363 clip, while the Blue Devils have the top percentage at .392. The Wolfpack enters Thursday’s contest fresh from an off week following its 61-52 win at Georgia Tech last week and riding a three-game winning streak.
• Jim Valvano is the only NC State coach to win in his first game in Durham, guiding the Pack to a 52-51 victory over the Blue Devils 1981.
• The NC State starting five account for .804 percent of the scoring.
Jacey Zembal (TheWolfpacker.com)
NC State controls tourney destiny
Jerry Palm, who is the owner and operator of CollegeRPI.com and CollegeBCS.com, has NC State among his final teams in the NCAA Tournament field, with a first-round play-in game against Xavier for the right to become the No. 12 seed. Ironically, the winner plays No. 4-seed Murray State, where Gottfried got his first head coaching job.
“NC State is kind of hanging on and hoping to crawl on to the bottom of the bracket,” Palm said. “They are going to need more.”
NC State controls its own destiny, even when it comes to winning an ACC title. North Carolina, Duke and Florida State, are all 8-2 in the league. The pressure to get a signature win over any of the three could define the season.
“It’s not expected to beat Duke or Carolina, but you can really help yourself a lot by beating either Duke or Carolina,” Palm said. “That is what happened to Miami. They were nothing, not even on the bubble. Then they beat Duke at Duke, and that’s a huge win.
“Florida State is a little more realistic in defeating or having expectations that you can win. That game would also help a lot. It would arguably be NC State’s best win of the season.”
Gottfried: “We Have To Defend Them”
“Their ability to shoot the three compliments their effectiveness inside. They make a lot of them and it puts a lot of pressure on your ability to help around the basket because they stretch your team out defensively on the perimeter.”
“Defending [Austin Rivers] will be a collective effort between all of our perimeter guys. There will be times throughout the game that each one of our perimeter guys will defend him. That’s not going to fall on one guy. That’s the way we’ve been most of the year. At times, C.J. Williams has done a great job. There have been times when Lorenzo Brown has stepped up defensively and guarded some really good players. It’s going to be a collective effort for us.”
“I want guys around me who are better than me. You look at great staffs, and you see the head coaches and former head coaches that are a part of those staffs. You bring in some great expertise in a lot of different areas. Our objective is to have the best staff in the country, period. That was my goal and Debbie shared that same goal. I never have thought about it in any other terms.”
“Probably the guy that I stole from the most was Calipari. As I watched, I liked the fact that there was one voice each time with the team. That doesn’t mean the other guys aren’t contributing, because they are. I have liked the way we’re doing with our assistant coaches this year. When you don’t get to see anybody else, and you are in your own program, that’s all you get to know.”
“You learn a lot about coaches in the summer time during recruiting because we’re all out in the same gyms together. I’ve always paid attention to people, I’ve watch assistant coaches that never watch the game, they sit up in the top and goof around and glad-hand everybody and then you watch some guys who are paying attention, they are studying players, they are really evaluating.”
“I always felt like that was Rob Moxley, Orlando Early and even Bobby. More than anything, I always had respect for guys who work hard at what they do. I always wanted to be that way. I hated it when my guys would go out and jack around in the summer time and not do their job.”
Rishav Dey (TechnicianOnline.com)
Pack set to take on first place Blue Devils
Junior forward Richard Howell felt the team would try and impose its own style of play in the game instead of playing catch-up.
“I think whatever game we play, we will try and make them play, we don’t want to go in and try to predict what type of game that’s going to happen,” Howell said. “We just want to go out there and go as hard as possible.”
Howell, who is the fourth leading rebounder in the ACC, felt the Blue Devils would pose a different challenge altogether in that category.
“It definitely makes it a lot tougher but we don’t want to make any excuses,” Howell said. “We know there are going to be a lot of rebounds and we are dependent on our guards to get to grab those long rebounds. It’s kind of upon us to get those short rebounds.”
Rishav Dey (TechnicianOnline.com)
The tough guy who makes everyone laugh
“He was about 6’8, 215 and he was probably one of the best players I had seen up till that point.”
That’s what N.C. State senior guard C.J. Williams had to say when asked to sum up what he thought of junior forward Richard Howell when he first got to know him.
In the Mark Gottfried era, if there’s one player who has established himself as not only one of the best players in the conference, but in the country, it has to be Howell.
At 9.2 rebounds per game, 11.4 points per game and a .505 field goal shooting percentage Howell’s a good player. But they do little justice to indicate the type of person Howell is.
“He is probably the biggest kid you will ever meet,” Williams said. “He loves to laugh and joke around and stuff. His laughter is infectious, he just makes everybody laugh.”
Junior center Deshawn Painter, who joined the Pack alongside Howell, said he was a great player but an even greater guy.
“We come from similar backgrounds,” Painter said. “We instantly clicked, but for the most part he is a hard worker. He has got a lot of heart.”
JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
NC State begins brutal stretch at No. 5 Duke
The Wolfpack’s current three-game winning streak came against Boston College, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech — the three teams at the bottom of the standings — and five of their eight ACC wins have come against those schools.
After the current three-game run against the league leaders comes another three-game stretch of toss-up games against Clemson, Miami and Virginia Tech to end the regular season.
The challenge, Gottfried says, is to keep from looking at the schedule in terms of three-game clusters.
“There’s not a walk in the park left on the schedule. We know it,” he said. “And so what we can’t do is try to group three together. We truly have to be mature enough … to zero in on this Duke game. Then it’s a quick — we have 24 hours and we’d better get ourselves ready to play Florida State. Then after that, but I don’t think you can get ahead of yourself and, ‘Oh, what happens in these three?’”
There’s virtually no chance any of the Wolfpack is looking past Duke.
N.C. State hasn’t won at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995, losing its last 10 trips to that corner of North Carolina’s “Triangle,” and has only beaten the Blue Devils five times since that season.
“There’s a lot of streaks that I think we’ve inherited that need to change,” Gottfried said.
Duke Basketball Report
Next Up – State
Next up for Duke is State and while an entire generation of Duke fans has grown up taking State for granted, you’ll all soon learn what your elders have known all along: it’s a great program with great tradition. And as it’s roared back to life rather suddenly, you’d best not make the mistake of taking the Pack lightly. Those days are over. If the Pack isn’t fully back, it’s not going to take much longer.
What Mark Gottfried has done at State is pretty remarkable: he took a set of players who really weren’t pushed much or significantly challenged and he’s remade them.
It’ll also be interesting, in general, to see what Coach K does with Gottfried’s approach on defense and offense. He learned a lot from Jim Harrick, and while his personality may not have necessarily been stable, his teams rarely outsmarted themselves.
So far, for the most part, neither has State. They’re unselfish, they’re smart, and they’re now disciplined.
STEVE WISEMAN (HeraldSun.com)
Duke faces another test vs. Pack
N.C. State (18-7, 7-3) stands right behind the leaders. Tonight, the Wolfpack seek to take a step similar to what Duke did at UNC by winning in a difficult environment.
“Well, they’ve done an excellent job,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said of the Wolfpack. “They’ve kept their team together well, so they kind of know one another. Their starting five is balanced. They’re well coached offensively and defensively.
Duke has used its time off to hone a play to stop N.C. State’s athletic ballhandlers, the type of players that have given the Blue Devils problems at times this season.
“They are a big team on the perimeter,” Duke associate head coach Chris Collins said. “UNC has a huge front line. N.C. State, when they throw out Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood and C.J. Williams, you have guys 6-5 and above that can all handle the ball.”
JOHN MARSHALL, AP Basketball Writer
NCAA providing glimpse of selection process
This season, the NCAA added a link to its website that ranks teams by RPI, including an expanded comparison of overall and conference records, strength of schedule and records against teams within various categories of RPIs.
There’s also a link for the team sheets of all 344 Division I teams, which break down the raw RPI numbers for every game on a team’s schedule — the same sheets the selection committee looks at when deciding which teams to include in the bracket.
The idea was to give the teams, fans and media a look at what the committee is basing its decisions on, though the numbers aren’t the only indicators they use.
“Certainly, you need to watch teams play and I think the majority of us see teams play on multiple occasions,” said Hathaway, who retired as Connecticut’s athletic director last year and is now an adviser for the Big East Conference. “That gives you some further insight. How a team looks is crucial and we get out and see games throughout the season. We need to go beyond the numbers.”
All-Access with Men’s Basketball
Go behind the scenes with Coach Mark Gottfried and the State men’s basketball team on a recent road trip.
Scott Fowler (N&O)
Video: How N.C. State can close gap on UNC, Duke
Scott Fowler discusses the impact that Mark Gottfried has had in his first season as N.C. State head basketball coach.
Riddick and Reynolds
R&R Podcast: Episode 38
Cliff Crawford, former NC State point guard from ’99-’03, joins us for both segments. He talks about the Georgia Tech game and helps us breakdown State’s huge game this Thursday against Duke in segment one.
In between segments one and two, an “impromptu” shooting contest breaks out between Cliff and Hayes Permar, show producer for the David Glenn Show. You can listen to the audio and see the highlights shot by Show Producer Chris below.
Cliff hangs around with us for segment two, which is kicked off with a discussion with a very special guest who happened to wander through the doors of Amedeo’s. We talk about Cliff’s project to give back, the “Youth First Movement,” and Cliff explains to us how difficult it can be teaching Julius Hodge how to drive a car.